United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
Matthew W. Brann United States District Judge
Dupree Edwards, an inmate presently confined at the Monroe
County Correctional Facility, Stroudsburg Pennsylvania, filed
this pro se petition for writ of habeas corpus
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. The required filing fee
has been paid.
as sole Respondent is the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The
only properly named Respondent in a federal habeas corpus
action is Petitioner's custodial official. See
28 U.S.C. § 2242. Accordingly, the Warden of the Monroe
County Correctional Facility will be deemed the Respondent in
describes himself as being a pre-trial detainee. Edwards
elaborates that he was arrested on state criminal charges and
his criminal prosecution is ongoing in the Court of Common
Pleas of Monroe County. See Doc. 1, ¶ 4.
According to his pending petition, Edwards has been
incarcerated since July 12, 2017 and is unable to post bail.
Petitioner indicates that proceedings (perhaps an arraignment
and preliminary hearing) were previously conducted in his
criminal case on July 26, 2017 and August 26, 2017.
alleges there was no probable cause for his arrest and he is
the subject of fabricated charges. The Petitioner admits that
he is presently represented by counsel and was granted a new
preliminary hearing which was conducted on January 18, 2018.
See Doc. 2-1, p. 3.
petition further maintains that Edwards filed a bail
modification motion as well as a motion asserting that the
Commonwealth had violated his right to a speedy trial under
Pennsylvania Rule of Criminal Procedure 600. Rule 600
provides for the dismissal of charges if a Pennsylvania state
criminal defendant is not brought to trial within 365 days of
the filing of the complaint. However, the period is less for
pre-trial detainees such as Edwards. Both motions are
presently pending before the state trial court. It is also
asserted that an evidentiary hearing has been scheduled in
his case for April 2, 2018.
claims entitlement to federal habeas corpus relief because
the Commonwealth has violated his Sixth Amendment right to a
speedy trial. As relief, Edwards seeks his immediate release
due to the alleged violation of his constitutional rights.
28, United States Code § 2241, vests the federal
district courts with jurisdiction to grant a writ of habeas
corpus to persons in custody in violation of the
Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States. 28
U.S.C. § 2241(c)(3). Habeas corpus petitions are subject
to summary dismissal pursuant to Rule 4 (“Preliminary
Review”) of the Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases in
the United States District Courts, 28 U.S.C. foll. §
2254 (2004). See, e.g., Mutope v. Pennsylvania Board of
Probation and Parole, Civil No. 3:cv-07-472, 2007 WL
846559 *2 (M.D. Pa. March 19, 2007)(Kosik, J.).
provides in pertinent part: “If it plainly appears from
the petition and any attached exhibits that the petitioner is
not entitled to relief in the district court, the judge must
dismiss the petition and direct the clerk to notify the
petitioner.” A petition may be dismissed without review
of an answer “when the petition is frivolous, or
obviously lacking in merit, or where. . . the necessary facts
can be determined from the petition itself. . . .”
Gorko v. Holt, Civil No. 4:cv-05-956, 2005 WL
1138479 *1(M.D. Pa. May 13, 2005)(McClure, J.) (quoting
Allen v. Perini, 424 F.2d 134, 141 (6th Cir. 1970).
upon Edwards' admission that he has not yet been
convicted or even tried on the state criminal charges
underlying this action, he is clearly a pre-trial detainee.
His pending petition challenges the validity of his ongoing
state criminal prosecution.
“federal habeas corpus is substantially a
post-conviction remedy, ” this Court still has limited
jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 2241(c)(3) to issue a
writ of habeas corpus. See Moore v. DeYoung, 515
F.2d 437, 441 (3d Cir. 1975). However, “jurisdiction
without exhaustion should not be exercised at the pre-trial
stage unless extraordinary circumstances are present.”
Id. at 443; see also Kennedy v. Commonwealth of
Pennsylvania, Civil No. 17-980, 2017 WL 3396400 *2 (E.D.
Pa. June 30, 2017).
Younger v. Harris, 401 U.S. 37 (1981), the United
States Supreme Court similarly observed that
“principles of federalism and comity require district
courts to abstain from enjoining pending state criminal
proceedings absent extraordinary circumstances.”
Port Auth. Police Benevolent Assoc., Inc. v. Port Auth.
of N.Y. and N.J. Police Dep't.,973 F.2d 169, 173
(3d Cir. 1992); see also, Duran v. Thomas, 393
Fed.Appx. 3, 4 (3d. Cir. 2010)(pre-trial habeas jurisdiction
must be exercised sparingly in order to prevent interference
in the state criminal process). The test for federal court
abstention under Younger is whether “(1) there
are ongoing state proceedings ...